Stubby little cucumbers, needing to be picked.
It's nearly July, and across the country, gardens are flourishing in the summer sun. What's your garden like this year? Do you have a pot of mint or basil sitting surreptitiously on a city fire escape? Or a big windowbox full of salad? (Remember these 10 inspiring small-space gardens?) Or perhaps you're blessed with more space, growing potatoes and squash in sprawling beds. Tell us what you're growing this summer, and take a peek at my own city garden.
I live in the city but I have a house and a small backyard. Much of the yard has been converted into beds — not because I have some fantasy of becoming an urban farmer (my husband and I are remarkably lax gardeners) — but because I think herbs and vegetables are not only delicious, but beautiful to look at all summer long.
Every year I find new ways to make the garden a little easier, too; I'm narrowing down my choices to the plants that are truly the easiest. If they take a lot of babying, out they go. This year, for instance, I didn't even bother with starting tomatoes from seed; I just don't have the right setup for it. And I didn't get out there early enough for peas and early season greens; I hardly remembered I had a garden until May this year.
So here goes — here are the herbs and vegetables I'm working with this summer:
• Tarpy spinach (bolted weeks ago)
• Arugula (ditto)
• Lacinato kale
• Green lettuce (variety escapes me)
• Red lettuce (ditto)
• Swiss chard
Early Summer Vegetable Bed
• Mustard greens
• French breakfast radishes
• Nantes carrots
• Bush cucumbers and climbing cucumbers
• Oregano (a few different kinds - I have completely forgotten which, now)
• Cilantro, which I reseed every couple weeks
• Dill, which is also reseeded throughout the summer
• Pineapple sage
• Lemon balm
• Basil (Thai, purple, globe)
• Bronze fennel
• Lemon verbena
• Italian parsley
• Thyme, lemon thyme, and silver thyme
• Champagne scented geranium
• Mint: Vietnamese, Kentucky Colonel, chocolate. (In pots all to themselves, to keep them from taking over!)
Sun Borders and Tomato Beds
• Tomatoes: Black Krim, Green Zebra, Stupice, Native Sun Hybrid, Garden Peach, Riesentraube. Also, two hybrid impulse-buy tomatoes from the greenhouse, bought in early spring and babied until it was warm enough to set them out! (Worth it — I already have two ripe red tomatoes ready to be plucked.)
• Eggplant: Fairy tale, Fengyuan, Rosa Bianca (all petite or long Asian varieties)
• Jalapeno pepper
• Raven zucchini (eerily swift-growing, prolific zucchini)
And then pots of nasturtium, zinnia, anise hyssop, catmint, and more — flowers that don't necessarily end up on the plate, but help create a garden pretty enough to hang out in all summer long.
Whew — that's a much longer list than I thought it would be. Many of the herbs have actually popped back up without any help from me. I haven't planted oregano, chives, lovage, sage, fennel, or thyme in a couple of years now. They come right back (vigorously, I might add!).
OK, your turn! What are you growing this year? Are you developing a green thumb for the first time? Or are you an experienced gardener? What are you most looking forward to harvesting this year?
Related: Margaret Roach's Vibrant Garden Kitchen
(Images: Faith Durand)